top of page

How to Find Your Calm: A Guide to Managing Anxiety, Overwhelm, and Burnout Through Nervous System Regulation

Updated: Apr 12

Life can be so busy that we often forget to take care of ourselves.  This can lead to deep feelings of stress and overwhelm. In the short term, stress can be helpful. It makes you more alert and gives you the energy to get things done. However long-term stress can lead to serious health problems.  

Your nervous system’s main function is to send messages from various parts of your body to your brain, and from your brain back out to your body to tell your body what to do. These messages regulate 3 main areas: Sensations (such as touch or hearing) Perception (the mental process of interpreting sensory information) Thought and emotions.  Such as:

  • Thoughts, memory, learning, and feelings.

  • Movements (balance and coordination).

  • Senses (how your brain interprets what you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel).

  • Wound healing.

  • Sleep

  • Heartbeat and breathing patterns.

  • Response to stressful situations, including sweat production.

  • Digestion.

  • Body processes, such as puberty and aging.

Rest and Digest vs. Fight or Flight

For our purposes, we are interested in the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system.   Your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems have opposite but complementary roles. Your sympathetic nervous system carries signals that put your body’s systems on alert, and your parasympathetic carries signals that return those systems to their standard activity levels.

Common Signs of a Dysregulated Nervous System (Anxiety!)

  • You’re constantly on edge and overwhelmed

  • You’re frequently snappy, irritable, and reactive

  • You experience chronic pain, illness, or headaches

  • You’re highly sensitive to sensory stimuli

  • You experience sleep problems and daytime fatigue

  • Chronic attention and concentration problems

  • Overeating or not eating enough

  • Drug and alcohol misuse

  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed

  • Less interest in sex than usual

Your sympathetic nervous system is best known for its role in responding to dangerous or stressful situations. In these situations, your sympathetic nervous system activates to speed up your heart rate and deliver more blood to areas of your body that need more oxygen or other responses to help you escape danger.

When the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is activated, it slows our heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure, and promotes digestion. Our body enters a state of relaxation, and this relaxation breeds recovery. The more time we spend in a PSNS state, the healthier we are.

Both of these systems are great and very needed.  As a society, however, we spend a LOT of time in a sympathetic state, which is why we will focus on working on our parasympathetic nervous system. 

Listen, Beautiful. I want you to feel JOY. So much of it.

There are SO MANY things we can do to activate this system.  Just to name a few:

  • Walking in nature

  • Restful sleep

  • Massage

  • Stretching

  • Yoga

  • Deep breathing

  • Meditate/sit quietly

  • Hugs

  • Singing/humming

  • Praying

  • Cold showers

  • Cuddle a human or pet

  • Healthy eating/nourishing meals

As you can see, you have many options! Our stretch community is focusing on the below right now. I hope you try one!

BELLY BREATHING: Have you tried box breathing? It’s easy and can be done anywhere – without looking weird. Take in a slow big breath for a count of 4. Hold for 4. Release slow and controlled for a count of 4. Longer exhales activate your parasympathetic nervous system & send a signal to the brain to rest while easing the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight)

SCREEN BREAKS: Our nervous system becomes overstimulated with media and multitasking. Take regular breaks from screens, especially right before bed lovely.

QUIET TIME: Bring your whole self into the present moment. As hard as it is (at least for me!), try to sit still for a few minutes a day. Notice what you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel. Focus on your breath.

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: Repeat to yourself “I am happy. I am healthy. I have everything I need.” Your brain is always listening to you. Say nice things to it

There is a great book I recently started reading called Heal Your Nervous System by Linnea Passaler.  I highly recommend it!

I’ll be thinking of you all, hoping you take steps to heal your nervous system. I’m always here for you if you need a tension-releasing stretch. Let’s get your body moving well!

Schedule your stretch session, today!

XOXO, Becky


bottom of page